Thursday, April 28, 2011

Running and Safety Razors ?

This is going to be a random post. In the last few months I have been under different kinds of stress. Boiling frustration at a nagging injury that won’t go away or issues at work that seem to never end and make my otherwise pleasant job a nightmare. These trying times have forced me to seek different sources of relaxation. I have meditated, read, drank, hiked, rode; ad infinitum…but the one go to starting point has been a classic wet shave.

I know it sounds weird and downright strange that something so common and so normal has become my cornerstone of relaxation but it is true. A few weeks back I ditched my ProFusion Glide mach3 million blade vibrating aerodynamic whisker killing razor and went with classic safety razor. I purchased a Merkur Classic Safety razor and refuse to ever go back.

Why ditch the “best a man can get” you ask? I was always in a rush and perennially getting razor burns, nicks and generally a non-pleasant experience. Shaving became a chore just like everything else. It was no longer grooming it was plowing. A few blogs I read had reviews and mentions of old fashioned safety razors. Although many of the authors could not tell the difference they simply enjoyed taking their time and the feeling of doing things the old fashioned way. I figured it would get me in touch my old school self, stop the razor burn since it is only one blade and maybe just maybe be a better shave. The first few shaves were painfully slow and when I rushed myself I paid for it, but after a few weeks it has become a calming ritual. I slow down and take my time and get the closest shave I have ever had (everyday!!!). It forces me to be careful and rewards me for doing so all in a relatively short amount of time. Does this translate to running?

Maybe. Ever since the change I have noticed that I make smarter decisions about how hard to push and when. I am more diligent about my training and I recognize that I will not be a sub 3 marathoner anytime soon so I better just put in the miles and relax. Is this new runner intelligence due to a close shave? Probably not; but forcing myself to not recklessly approach any act no matter how trivial seems has helped me be patient and wait for my rewards…any distance is just little steps repeated many many times over.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bishop High Sierra Race Prep - General Prep

Map Courtesy of

Elevation Map with Aid Stations
 This post is the first of a series that will be submitting as i get closer to the Bishop High Sierra 50.  Its my second ultra attempt and I am being over zealous with the prep this time becuase I definitelty do not want another DNF or a bad race, i.e. not finishing.  So here are some general thoughts thus far.  All images are from and links from that site.  thank you to the Race Director for providing race reports and by all accounts a great race.  i will be posting additional pictures and estimated links in future posts but here is the gist of it.
*I emailed the RD because the cut off times do not seem clear on the chart that I pulled from the website.  But I know that cut offs were lengthened but the website does not seem to have updated them.  RD informed that 7 pm is Cut for Buttermilk Rd #2.  So replied asking all cut off times but the email has not been returned yet I assume the RD is in crazy race prep mode organizing a great event.  From all the reviews many people relied solely on aid stations for nutrition and stated they were well stocked and it was an amazing experience.

My Plan for the BHS50 is to finish the first 20 miles in 6 hours.  This will place me in at the highest point and it will be generally downhill from there.  For the downhill portion I will most likely change socks before decent, but I trust that the gaiters will do their job, if they do it should be all good from there assuming no disasters.  I will also be using KT Tape for me left lower leg area.  It is still tender sometimes and I want to make sure to take any precaution I can.  I also think that the gaiters will help it stay in place regardless of how sandy the trail is. 

Nutrition (current plan - subject to review by Coaches Jeff and Diane of PRS Fit.)

First Half (start - overlook)
Water approx 20 - 35 oz per hour (pack)
2 Endurolyte pills per hour
2 Gel Per Hour (30 min)

Second Half (overlook to end)
Water approx 20 - 35 oz per hour (pack)
1 Endurolyte pills per hour
1 Gel Per Hour (30 min)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Getting Back On Track

Well I guess the title is a misnomer. I am getting back on the trail. The last couple months I have dealt with injury and other life issues. I really need to get back and just get outside in the sun. I was disappointed over the DNF at the American River 50, but I did learn a lot of lessons and good info about how my body reacts and those were definitely good lessons to learn.

I had a chance to talk to Coach Jeff from PRS Fit and I will crank out preliminary nutrition plan for the Bishop High Sierra 50. He will review it and hopefully by the time the BHS50 comes nutrition will be the least of the problems. I am going to error on the side of over-prep rather than winging it. I feel confident that with some good weather and a positive attitude I will be able to finish without issues within the cut off times. The whole without issues may be a problem.

In classic style I could not manage to get the Friday before the race off. There is a slight possibility of leaving early but nothing is certain. So, that means a 4-6 hour drive depending on traffic, after a long work day so I can get up and run 50 miles in altitude the next day. With planning it will be smooth. I need to remember to update the maps on my GPS…I am definitely not trying to get lost that far away from home.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Camelbak Quick Grip Handheld Bottle

The Camelback Handheld pretty much the Podium Bottle with a grip.  I reach for this bottle for runs that go 1-2 hours.  Of the handhelds I have in rotation I seem to always slip my hand into this one first because it is easy to use, and my training runs average right around this bottle’s range so I am carrying just enough.

Insulated Podium ChillJacket Bottle,
BPA-free TruTaste polypropylene
Leak proof cap seal
21 oz. / 610 ml fluid capacity
Sleeve with zippered pocket (mesh) - 40g - 1.5 oz

I have used this bottle on many training runs both on the trail and on the road.  I even took the bottle out of the handheld and used it when riding my road bike.  The average mileage for running would be 6-10 miles.  I think that is bottle is easier to use than some of the other popular handhelds out there.  The valve can be operated one handed and without having to bite or tug anything with your teeth.  That seems like something small but when I am tired I get tunnel vision and I forget to close the cap on other bottles or bite too hard and no one wants a chipped tooth because you’re not paying attention. 

I also like that the water stays cooler longer.  I sweat a lot and regular handhelds will heat up quick status.  I am not saying my hand produces boiling water or anything like that.  What I am saying is that the cool water is nice after an hour or so of running, as opposed to warm water.

The pocket does not fit as many GU’s as you may need.  Honey Stingers have to be bent and GU will fit (2 gels) and keys.  If you are going for an hour that should be plenty, but if you are going to re-fill on the run you may want to consider a combo approach.  Example, Hammer Nutrition’s “Heed” in the bottle for the first hour and then the two GU for the second after the refill with water only, but that will be up to each person.  If you were hoping to put a cell phone in there it is not going to happen.

Another warning; this bottle seems a little heavier than other comparable bottles (20-22 oz.).  It is going to be a matter of personal preference.  I am willing to roll with the extra weight if it means I get some cool liquid an hour into the run and the handheld is secure to my hand, it never feels like it will come off or break anytime soon.  That being said some more minimal style runners may enjoy a different bottle that keeps things as simple as possible.  I am not to that level yet, so I will take every advantage equipment has to offer.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

American River 50 - DNF - Race Report

I know that there is a list of things out there in the world of running that are the “do not do this” before a race. Well I pretty much did all the things you should not do…so let’s get recapping.

The day before the race which I think is crucial to getting off on a good foot I made some mistakes. I did not properly hydrate the day before. I think I drank a liter of water the whole day tops, not really my brightest idea. But we were in the car for a very long time and packet pick up and finding the hotel were in the forefront of my mind. That night we also stopped at Walgreens to purchase a knee brace and throat medicine. The whole week prior my throat-to-ear area were feeling something, I know not what. By the time we settled in that night I was not hungry and not drinking water. I should have eaten, but I didn’t. Also, I was very anxious about my first ultra; I checked, and rechecked everything, eventually getting some shut eye around 1 am for a race that starts at 6am, smooth alex…smooth.

Race Morning
I got up, and put everything on…had laid it out the night before. However, as prepped as I was I was still running around doing last minute things. For example, I wore KT tape to support my left ankle area. I knew I was going to do it, but I did not shave it so the tape would stick. So knowing it would not stick I still put it on and hoped. Over the next few hours the errors would keep piling up.

The morning went off without a hitch in regards to arrival and “getting “to the start. The hotel was a few miles from the start and early in the morning only the crazies were out in full force. We drove to the start and…no breakfast, not even a bite. It was a mistake. I should have had something either the night before or 3 hours before the race…I knew it but I was just too nervous about the start.

Start was awesome. The nervous energy was everywhere and obviously being the gear nerd I am I started checking out the latest styles and what everyone was wearing. Ultra runners are a very colorful bunch, I saw more color there than at the LA marathon.

Starting Line
Knowing I was in trouble I knocked down a Clif Shot (espresso)…I needed the caffeine and the pep since I skipped the most important meal of the day. We ran a loop…out and then back onto the road. The knee braces started bothering be from the first step on. But I still took off with the pack.

Miles 1-6
This part is the story of the knee braces. You know that whole don’t wear anything new thing they say. There is a reason they say it. By the time I got to the 10k mark I could not feel my feet. The knee braces were brand new and had not loosened up at all. I loosened the braces up and it helped some, but not enough for a sustained effort.

Miles 6-14
At mile 9 I took off the knee braces, they just bothered me way too much. After feeling my legs free up did I notice I had not freed up. I had not used the bathroom yet and I only now figured that part out. I usually would have gone to the bathroom a few times by this point in the race, but I was jovially running around being dim witted about my hydration. Thus the saga of the non-participatory bladder began. I finally forced myself to go and it was not a good thing. I was dehydrated and although I did not feel it right away I knew I was paying for my shockingly bad prep the day before.

Miles 14-22
I took these very slow, painfully slow. After not having used the restroom I went at mile 20. I had to wait in line for a good 10 minutes because two runners had gotten to the John ahead of me. I went, felt great, but started drinking water like it was my job. I tried to get water in me, but the combo of that and GU made me feel worse. I was trying to do a patch job during the race and that was stupid. Let’s face it. So I went slow, deciding that going 110% knowing I was not well hydrated would do way more harm than good. So I got sick.

Mile 21-22
I struggled this mile. A lot of runners passed me…a lot. I am not even joking there was a train of people blowing past me and I could not do a thing. I met a guy from Florida, also running ill. He was really nice and we talked for a little bit before he took off. I would see him again at the cut off, we both had long days. Every time I tried to get a jog going my stomach gave me the bile reminder. So I walked into the mile 22 aid station.

Mile 22 - Beal’s Point
I was a wreck at this point. My crew was awesome; they gave me some stomach meds and Ginger Ale. I threw up a couple more times. But I felt better. At this point a race volunteer said that I better hurry if I was going to make the cut off time at the next aid station!!! My brain went into panic mode. I thought the cut off was at the 50k mark, not the 26.6-ish mark. So I put on a fresh pack and headed off. I passed at lead 10 people in my mad dash to aid station. I was running up hills and just trying to get it going. I did not make it. I knew it about 1 mile from the station I was not going to do it.

Regardless of not making it I was so happy I felt better that I ran the last bit knowing that it was the end of my day. The crew was awesome and really helped me out. This race I was a victim of my own lackluster prep but even then I made it past the marathon point so I can’t get too mad. Later this week I will post pictures of the trail and my train wreck approach to running it.

Garmin DATA

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Podcasts on my iPod …

Running/ Fitness Related

100 Mile Ultra running Podcast - - podcast discussed the Grand Slam of Ultra Running, and most recently Training for the Berkeley Marathons (ridiculously difficult race)..he is also a family man, he will routinely talk about having to fix this or take his kids to that…he does a great job of managing the ultra life (not the beer) and regular life.

B-HAG Running Podcast - From Australia, discusses training down under and trail running. He is very good about telling you how he is modifying his training and how it is working for him. He is a good source of information as well since he is always pluging and suggesting other podcasts to listeners

The Extra Mile Podcast - 513-397-0525 - - it is a compilation of voicemails and listener submitted race reports and updates; I have submitted…also it chronicles the Podcaster’s training and racing

Dirt Dawgs Rambling Diatribe - Coming from Detriot it’s a great podcast talking about training for marathon’s, ultramarathons and managing 2 parents running with small kids; interesting how they balance the running and ever day life.

Phedippidations - - podcast about runners, for runners…it’s been around the longest and has a wealth of information as well. Podcaster is a former Radio host and the editing of this one is great, he puts a lot of work in to get insights and pulls from a variety of resources; other blogs, literature, books, philosophy, etc.

Running with the Pack - www.parkedthoughts - 2 hosts, they work at a university and manage to get their fitness in. They are entertaining and the conversation flows very naturally…it’s almost like being in a room with them…they also do Triathlons and product reviews.

Geeks in Running Shoes - - 2 hosts, one of the first podcasts I listened too. They are very entertaining, have great info and are very open to new info from any and all sources. They have interviewed a wide array of people from Russell (3nonJoggers podcast) to Scott Jurek (ultramarathon deity). They are witty and tend to drink beer when recording which usually makes things more interesting.

This Running Life - - Host was an overweight unhealthy person and transformed his life and became a fit vegan trying to qualify for Boston. His transformation is an amazing testament to hard work and he delves a lot into adjusting to his life as a healthy runner.

Quadrathon - - host provides reviews of products (check out his site) and his podcast chronicles his training for Ultras while managing his life in Southern California. Its really nice to hear about his trail running since I am familiar with the places he mentions. Blog and podcast combined are a good source of info and un-biased reviews.

3 Non Joggers - - newest podcast I started listening too. 3 hosts, very funny. They drink scotch, get off topic, curse, ramble but somehow pull it together and relate it to running.

Run-Run-Live - - 1 host, he has a lot of interviews ranging from entrepreneurs, runners, business leaders...I am not really sure what he does but he travels a lot and runs pretty fast. His podcast is focused…he edits really well and somehow always comes up with new stuff and new segments to help runners. I really enjoy this one…and he also adds new music from unknown bands…some of which are really good.

PRS Fit - - This is my coach’s podcast. Coach Jeff and Coach Diane are great, they provide awesome information…and they stream live…if you have a chance to watch the live show definitely do, it’s a great source and they answer any and all questions. They have a great dynamic and you can feel they care about fitness and helping each athlete reach their potential.

Iron Brandon - - Also one of the podcasts I have listened to for a long time, and have actively participated in the live show. Host is an opera singer/triathlete who trains and works in NY (for now). He is really good about writing reviews and does a lot of giveaways on his show. Because he practices multi sport disciplines he is a good source for equipment info and a nice person as well.

Non Running Related
*these require no explanation, pretty straight forward and are well known.
The History of Rome
Stuff You Should Know
How Stuff Works
Stuff You Missed In History Class
Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know
Ask a Ninja

If you have a podcast you would like to suggest let me know.  These are the current ones and obviously there will be more or less in the future, but definitely give them a listen.